Poland senior kicker Connor McFadden verbally commits to Youngstown State
By joe Scalzo
Poland senior Connor McFadden is the son of former NFL kicker Paul McFadden, so let’s get the obvious question out of the way:
Has Connor ever kicked barefoot?
“Yeah, I’ve tried a few,” he said, chuckling. “It’s not that bad. I kick pretty close to the same with that.”
McFadden, who verbally committed to Youngstown State this week, will follow not just in the footsteps of his father (who kicked for the Penguins from 1980-83 before spending six barefooted seasons in the NFL with the Eagles, Giants and Falcons) but also his mother, Dianne Rappach, who played for YSU’s women’s basketball team from 1988-92. Both are in YSU’s athletic hall of fame.
“Yeah, that factored in [the decision] a little bit,” said Connor, whose high school coach, Mark Brungard, was a standout quarterback for the Penguins. “They’ve always told me it’s up to me, though. But at this point, YSU probably has the best facilities around here, so I figured it’s the best decision I could make.”
Over his three-year career, McFadden set Poland records for field goals (19) and PATs (108). He made 19 of 31 field goals in his career and had touchbacks on more than 50 percent of his kickoffs.
At YSU, he will step into the spot vacated by senior David Brown. Penguin junior Nick Liste, a punter, also handles kickoff duties and the occasional field goal, so McFadden won’t necessarily have to start as a true freshman.
Like his father, Connor grew up playing soccer. He didn’t start kicking for the football team until eighth grade. After playing both sports as a freshman — which involved practicing until 9 p.m. every night — he picked football, both because of his genes and because Friday nights are more fun than Thursdays.
“At a soccer game, there were literally like two people watching us,” McFadden said.
McFadden grew up playing Legos and building rockets, so he’s planning to major in mechanical engineering in hopes of eventually getting into the aerospace industry.
He’s also hoping to eventually gain weight. At 6-foot-2 and 160 pounds (159 without shoes), he won’t be mistaken for a left tackle any time soon.
“I’ve been lifting a lot and trying to eat a lot more,” he said. “It’s one of my main goals, to get bigger overall.
“But my dad was always one of the lightest players in the NFL. I get it from him. It’s in my genes.”